Men's Basketball Release: Week 9




Jan. 4, 2010

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WINNING WAYS:
Purdue boasts the nation's best record at 18-1 since March 13, 2009. After winning the 2009 Big Ten Tournament title, the Boilermakers earned two wins in the NCAA Tournament before falling eight points short of a trip to the West Regional Finals with a loss to Connecticut on March 26. Purdue is currently riding a 13-game winning streak and has compiled a .947 winning percentage in its last 19 outings. The mark ranks ahead of other records belonging to Kansas at 15-1 (.938), as well as Duke and Kentucky, which both sit at 17-2 (.895) since wrapping up postseason conference tournaments a year ago.

FANTASTIC FOUR: Four teams now stand undefeated entering the ninth week of the college basketball season. The Big Ten remains one of three conferences with at least one team yet to suffer a loss. Purdue (13-0) tipped off the New Year by knocking off one of the nation's untouchables with a 77-62 triumph over West Virginia (11-1) to keep its unblemished streak intact. The Big 12 has two undefeated programs in Kansas and Texas, who each sit at 13-0, while the SEC's Kentucky remains perfect at 15-0 through week eight. Syracuse joins the Mountaineers in suffering its first loss of the season last week, completing the Big East's fall from the nation's pack of unbeatens.

LUCKY 13: The Big Ten leads the nation with the most wins over AP Top-25 opponents with 13. After taking down four top-15 teams earlier in the season, the Big Ten knocked off another highly touted foe as No. 4/4 Purdue handed No. 6/6 West Virginia its first loss of the 2009-10 campaign. The win helped bolster the Big Ten's record against AP Top-25 opponents, which currently stands at 13-12.

BIG TEN. BIG STAGE. BIG WINS: The Big Ten boasts three programs with perfect records against AP-Top 25 rivals. Wisconsin leads the charge at 3-0, earning its most notable win of the season against then No. 6 ranked Duke in early December. Illinois and Purdue are also perfect against nationally ranked foes in the media poll, each sitting at 2-0 after adding wins last week. The Big Ten trio ties the Big East for the highest number of teams to compile perfect records versus the AP Top 25. Overall, the Big Ten Conference has competed against 25 teams to have appeared in the national poll - good enough to rate second to only the Big East (27) among all NCAA DI conferences.

STILL STREAKING: With a pair of wins last week, Purdue moved to 13-0 on the season to mark the second-best start in school history.  Matt Painter's squad has won 18 of its last 19 games, dating back to last season and a win over Minnesota on Tuesday would tie the Boilermakers with the 1993-94 squad for the best start in program history (14-0). But first, the Boilermakers will have to overcome a red-hot Gopher squad, which is also enjoying a seven-game win streak. During that stretch, Minnesota is averaging 89.1 points per game while shooting .523 from the floor. Wisconsin is also in the midst of a win streak with six consecutive W's decorating its schedule. The Badgers improved to 2-0 in Big Ten play for the fifth straight season last week, winning its seventh consecutive Big Ten opener witha victory against Ohio State to maintain the longest active streak in the conference.

PROTECTING THE ROCK: Four Big Ten student-athletes represent the conference among the NCAA's top 10 in assist-to-turnover ratio. Wisconsin's Jordan Taylor ranks third in the nation with a 3.92 rating, sitting slightly ahead of Northwestern's Michael Thompson, who checks in at No. 4 with a 3.56 assist-to-turnover ratio. Thompson has committed just 16 turnovers in NU's first 13 games despite leading the conference with an average of 37.9 minutes played per contest. Also appearing in the top 10 are Purdue's Chris Kramer (3.33) and Minnesota's Al Nolen (3.18), ranking No. 6 and No. 10, respectively. Together, the foursome paces the conference in leading the nation with seven squads ranked among the top 25 in the category. Of those seven teams, Northwestern reigns over the top spot with a team assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.69.

LIGHTING UP THE SCOREBOARD: Collectively, the Big Ten is averaging nearly 75 points per game with Michigan State and Minnesota leading the conference with an average of over 80 tallies per contest. The Spartans' high-powered offense has recorded 1,154 points in its first 14 times out this season, while the Gophers are averaging 80.3 points on the year - the highest scoring average in Tubby Smith's tenure. Minnesota, who currently ranks ninth in the nation in scoring margin, posted nine non-conference victories by 30.1 points per game and entered the Big Ten slate averaging over 92 points in its final five non-conference contests. Overall, nine of the Big Ten's 11 institutions have either matched or exceeded their scoring production from this time a year ago.

TURNING DEFENSE INTO OFFENSE: If offense sells tickets and defense wins games, what happens when a team's defense can create opportunities for scoring? Ask Minnesota and Purdue. The two teams are turning defense into their greatest offensive weapon by capitalizing on two of the top turnover margins in the nation. The Boilermakers own a 7.6 turnover advantage over their opponents, good enough to rank third in the country behind only Houston (+10.3) and Missouri (+8.0). Minnesota currently rates sixth in the country with a +6.0 turnover ratio. Also inching closer to the top 10 in the nation is Michigan, which checks in at No. 11 with a 5.0 turnover margin.